1938 REO Tractor & Curtiss Aerocar Fifth Wheeler
This ultra streamlined REO tractor was specifically built to tow a Curtiss Aerocar, one of the earliest production fifth wheel trailers. (REO was abbreviated for Ransom Eli Olds, the founder of Oldsmobile, a company later absorbed by General Motors).
Custom built for Dr. Hubert Eaton of the Forest Lawn Memorial Parks, it features a large storage area, sleeping quarters for the driver, and a separate four-cylinder engine for auxiliary power. A Williams air-brake system and dual rear wheels accommodate the permanently attached 10,000-pound trailer. First equipped with a flat-12 White truck engine, the REO tractor was fitted with a 360-horsepower Cummins 6-cylinder diesel in 1953 when the original engine wore out after more than 250,000 miles of use.
The luxurious and expensive Aerocar trailer was built by Curtiss Wright of Coral Gables, Florida, a firm also known for motorcycles and pioneering aircraft. Nicknamed "Vagabond" by Dr. Eaton, it was outfitted for hunting excursions and to transport visitors. It was also used on trips to inspect various real estate holdings. Special features include a self-contained restroom and kitchen and an observation deck equipped with a speedometer, compass, and intercom (to speak to the driver). Though currently set up for day travel, the interior could be modified to sleep up to six. This wonderful rig was in regular use until retired by Forest Lawn Memorial Parks in 1991.
This display on loan from The Petersen Automotive Museum.
Make: REO Tractor & Curtiss Aerocar Fifth Wheeler
Style: Tractor & Fifth Wheel
Serial No: N/A
Engine Cyl: N/A
Engine Size: 6-cylinder diesel
Engine HP: 360